The Fall Crop Gardening Experience. As we get set to head into August, many gardeners are caught up in the excitement of the summer harvest. Everything from tomatoes, peppers, zucchini and corn seem to be ready to pick daily, and the thought of planting another round of seeds for a fall crop in the garden rarely crosses the mind. But planting now for a fall crop in the garden is an excellent way to keep that fresh food coming right up until ol’ man Winter sets in!
Although there is not enough time left in the growing season for a new planting of crops such as corn, peppers or tomatoes, August is a great time to plant the garden with a few cool loving, fall-thriving crops that can put food on your table well into late October.
Planting in mid to late summer has a lot of advantages over early spring planting. For starters, the soil is nice and warm, which allows seeds to germinate quickly. In addition, there are no worries of a hard freeze or of seedlings rotting away in overly damp and cool soil. Last but not least, if you are like us, it’s just one last chance before the freezing cold of winter sets in to experience the thrill of gardening!
The key to growing a good fall crop is to first rejuvenate the soil with a little compost in your growing holes and rows before planting. This gives back nutrients to the soil lost from your spring crop, and will power the newly planted seeds off to a great start. It’s also extremely important to keep the soil and newly emerging seedlings well watered for the first few weeks. Late summer temps can still be brutal, and those cool loving crops can dry out quickly until fully established.
Beyond that, it’s as easy as sitting back and watching them grow and produce! Here are a few of our favorite fall crops to grow:
Peas – Whether planting a more traditional shelling variety, or the sweeter, sugar snap types, peas are an excellent choice as a 2nd crop in the garden. Peas thrive in cooler temperatures, and as the cool fall nights settle in, you will be amazed at well they grow. Planting a few rows in the first week or two of August usually allows plenty of time for the plants to produce a fall crop before the first frost.
Green Beans – Green beans are an excellent choice for a big fall crop of garden fresh goodness! As the first week of August approaches, most of the early green bean crops are beginning to fade out after a second or third picking. Sowing a new crop of seeds now will get you ready for a big 2nd harvest come mid to late September.
Lettuce / Kale / Greens – Much like the peas, lettuce crops prefer cooler temperatures, so fall is perfect. Many varieties will be ready to start harvesting in as little as 30 days or less, so a planting in early or even late August can put fresh salads on your tables right up to November! In fact, with most leaf lettuce types, you can usually plant a couple of rounds of crops in mid and late summer for a constant supply.
Green Onions – Another quick-growing and easy crop to grow – green onions are an excellent fall crop to plant and harvest for soups, salads, or simply eating right from the garden!
Radishes – Some radishes can mature in as little as 28 days, so they can be planted every few weeks in August and even in to early September for a constant harvest right up till the first hard freeze.
Cover Crops – and don’t forget – as fall approaches, every garden should have a great cover crop planted. A crop of annual rye, annual clover or buckwheat planted in the garden soil in late fall will do wonders to rejuvenate that soil for a great garden next year! See – How To Plant A Cover Crop
So get out there and get that late summer garden planted – and get ready for some fresh harvesting in the cool and crisp weather of Fall!
Happy Gardening! – Jim and Mary
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